This is why iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max's Action Button will finally make Shortcuts on iOS worth using

Action Button
(Image credit: Apple)

With pre-orders now live for everything announced at the 'Wonderlust' event, such as the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Apple Watch Ultra 2, there's going to be plenty to enjoy when these all launch on September 22.

And yet, one of the most exciting updates to the iPhone is the new Action Button, borrowed from the Apple Watch Ultra.

iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max offer plenty to be excited about, with a new titanium chassis, hardware-based ray-tracing for games, and the longest iPhone Optical Zoom ever for the Max model.

With all this in mind, here's why the Action Button in the iPhone 15 Pro models could be huge for Apple Shortcuts in the coming months.

Action button on iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

What's in a button?

Adding a button may seem a little trivial, but it's worth pointing out that this is a pretty sizeable shift for the iPhone.

For years, the iPhone was volume buttons, a mute switch, and the home button, and while the latter went away with the iPhone X, it seemed likely the others would stay in perpetuity - even as Android alternatives ditched a physical mute button.

It seems the time has finally come, and in place of a mute switch Apple has added another button. For a company so determined to shave off buttons in the past (we're looking at you, Touch Bar), it's a pleasant surprise.

But what good is a button that doesn't do anything?

Taking action

I've previously suggested that the Apple Watch Series 9 should add the Action Button, but the iPhone has beaten it to the punch.

In fact, the functionality appears to be almost identical to the Apple Watch Ultra's implementation, allowing customizable usage.

It can, thankfully, still be used as a stand-in mute switch - you can hold it to mute, and hold again to unmute. Apple's own store page suggests using it as a translation tool, a quick way to open the camera, or a way to access a workout.

And yet, as with the Apple Watch Ultra, the real power of the Action Button lies with those building Shortcuts in the Apple ecosystem.

Taking a Shortcut

Shortcuts can be triggered by pressing the Action Button, meaning you queue up pretty much any task you want. In fact, you can queue up dozens of tasks to run at the same time.

As an example, you could use the Action Button on iPhone 15 Pro to move into the Work focus mode, adjust the apps you have available, mute social media notifications, swap out your wallpaper, and more - all with a single button.

Better yet, you can set the Shortcut to require user input. With this functionality, I've got a multiple-choice shortcut set up on my Apple Watch Ultra that lets me pick from four different options with a single button press, letting me reach the most important features (those being my task manager, workout apps, and heart monitor).

iPhone Shortcut adoption skyrocketed primarily with the arrival of custom icons and the like for customizing your home screen, but the arrival of an Action Button could lead to more people using it - and more users means more people that can be inspired to create their own, which are easily shareable via the Shortcuts Gallery in iOS.

Shortcuts still feel a little "hacky" at times, especially when triggered from the Shortcuts menu with the little progress bar and more. Having an easy way to activate them, particularly without even needing to unlock your phone, makes me exponentially more likely to use them.

Given many Shortcuts are transferable across Apple platforms as well, it could lead to a productivity Shortcut boon for the entire ecosystem, something that benefits everyone.

Not sure if it'll off the Apple Watch Ultra's siren function, though.

Lloyd Coombes

Lloyd Coombes is a freelance writer with a specialism in Apple tech. From his first, hand-me-down iMac, he’s been working with Apple products for over a decade, and while he loves his iPhone and Mac, the iPad will always have his heart for reasons he still can’t quite fathom. Since moving from blogging to writing professionally, Lloyd’s work can be found at TechRadar, Macworld, TechAdvisor and plenty more. He’s also the Editor in Chief at, and on the rare occasion he’s not writing you’ll find him spending time with his son, or working hard at the gym (while wearing an Apple Watch, naturally). You can find him on Twitter @lloydcoombes.